Featured

Invisible Scars: Would You Have Believed Me?

“Get the f-ck over it. I’m done with you being so crazy.” 

That is one of many texts (888 PDF pages worth of them, to be exact) between me and my “best friend,” the first person I ever loved.  I wish I could say that was the first and last time he spoke to me that way, but it wasn’t.


It’s easy to tell yourself that you would never allow yourself to be abused, but it’s harder to follow through when you don’t know what to look for. When I thought of abusive relationships, I pictured the scenes I watched in movies like “Enough,” where the spouse was clearly awful and the abuse was physical — that was all I really knew until I experienced otherwise. I used to tell myself, “I’ll never let myself get into an abusive relationship. And if I do, I won’t stay. I’d never let someone hit me.”

According to statistics from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have been a victim of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Of the victims who suffer injuries, only one in five will get medical attention and only half of them will report the violence to the police. 

The reasons for not reporting vary for each individual. They may be ashamed, or scared that their abuser will retaliate. Maybe they have children. But oftentimes, it isn’t reported simply because the victims don’t think they’ll be believed, and that nothing will be done. These are victims who have bruises and scars, physical evidence of their abuse that the world can see. But what about the scars we can’t see? 

A 2015 survey taken by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that 48.4 percent of women and 48.8 percent of men have experienced some form of psychological abuse. Like victims of physical abuse, psychological abuse can continue to affect someone long after the abusive relationship has ended. Emotional abuse isn’t obvious enough for the world to see, and it often can’t be understood unless you are the one enduring the abuse, making it even harder to be believed. 

I was 22 when we met. He was 33. I was young, naive, inexperienced, and absolutely thrilled to finally get attention from a guy. After struggling with my weight since day one of puberty and having little to no confidence, I was convinced that no boy would ever like me. But then he came up to me at work one day and proved me wrong. Here was a guy, an older guy, telling me how much he liked me, how beautiful I was, and asking me out. He had a reputation. I’d been warned the first day of work that I was his type, but still, I fell, and I kept falling for more than three years.

He made it clear that I was not the only girl in his life, but he made sure that he was the only man in mine. When I wasn’t being love-bombed, I was being gaslighted so badly that I was convinced I was lucky to have him because “nobody else would want to deal with me.” Or I was being given the silent treatment for so long that all I could think about was making him talk to me again. If I made plans with a male friend, he’d get so jealous I’d feel guilty for days. But when I tried to explain to people why I was an anxious mess and constantly apologizing, they didn’t believe me. He was good at what he did. To everyone else I looked like the crazy one — I mean, he didn’t hit me, I didn’t have proof, why would they believe me? 

It’s hard to speak up for yourself when your self-worth and self-respect have been slowly stripped away from you, or when you try to tell mutual friends the way he makes you feel about yourself and they respond with, “You knew what he was like when you met, you asked for it.” It’s even harder to have your feelings validated when the response you usually receive is, “Does he hit you?” Well, no, he didn’t, I’d never even been afraid that he would. This was what I’d remind myself of when I’d cry myself to sleep at night. He doesn’t hit me, it isn’t that bad.

When I hear stories of brave women (and men) who are able to speak up about their abuse but are met with skepticism, I’m taken back to the moments when I tried to tell coworkers what was happening and why I frequently broke down at work, but they brushed it away. I watched strong women speak out against Larry Nassar (the former U.S.A. Gymnastics national team doctor accused of sexually assaulting over 250 girls) and tell the stories of the first time they tried to report him but nobody investigated. I remembered the first time I admitted to myself that what I was going through was abuse, I took a test that scored almost 100 percent that yes, I was being emotionally abused, and when I reached out to a friend mid-anxiety attack she told me to get over it. It wasn’t like he hit me. 

On March 12, 2019, thanks to my family, real friends, and therapists, I’ll be one year of No Contact. On September 30, 2018, I met someone, and when I gathered the courage, I told him. I braced myself for the reaction of- “But did he hit you?” Instead, I heard him say, “You know that’s abuse, right?” He believed me. 

Worthy

I have struggled with feeling worthy nearly my entire life. 

I always felt like I had to earn anything that I had. That I had to do something for someone to deserve them doing something nice for me in return. This was especially true for me when it came to relationships. I only deserved love if I was skinny enough, chill enough, hot enough, or smart enough. It all came down to being enough. And I never felt like I was. Like I was worthy of things just because I am. Not because of how I look or what I do. 

This took nearly 30 years for me to overcome and, to be honest, I’m still not perfect. 

A lot of my ability to overcome this feeling of unworthiness came from the help, guidance, and support of my amazing friend Ryin and her Soul Purpose Program. A good amount of it came from me simply growing up and gaining more experience and self-love, and confidence. But mostly, it’s been because I am finally with someone who reminds me every day that I’m worthy of the love he gives me. 

I have always said that to be in a good, healthy relationship, you need to be secure in yourself first. And I still think that’s mostly true. But I also think that was the wrong way to think for most of my life. 

When you think that you’re only allowed to have a relationship when you’re the best version of yourself, who is so secure and perfect on their own, it’s once again sending that same message. You have to be enough. But you don’t. 

Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

I will never be 100% “cured” of my anxiety or OCD. I will probably always have a tendency to overthink things. I’ll sometimes need some extra validation, and sometimes my life will be messy. And I deserve to be loved just as much with all of that as I do without it. 

Having grown up watching Disney movies, I knew I always wanted to be treated well by the man I ended up with. But, sometimes, it was hard for me to believe that I’d find it. I struggled to think I deserved it. But now, I have found it. And it’s incredible to have someone listen to my feelings. Who buys me flowers, helps me when I need support, and tells me I’m beautiful first thing in the morning. 

Yes, I’ve been to lots of therapy. I’ve meditated, journaled, done shadow work, and “dated” myself. Of course, that helped me to get to where I am. But finding someone to validate further the feeling of worthiness that I’ve worked to cultivate has made the biggest difference. Not because I need his validation or think my worthiness is contingent upon actually being loved… because it has helped me to embrace even the messy parts of myself. The parts that I tried to hide but now, after my boyfriend moved in after basically three dates, are impossible to. The parts that I now love just as much as the “good” parts of me. 

So, yes, working on yourself first is important. But, even if you’re not where you want to be or should be in terms of being your “best self,” you are still worthy of being loved. Wholly, completely, and unconditionally. And I hope that you find that with someone and with yourself.

Chapter 47: The Gentleman

Well, everyone, the moment has finally come. I have a story for you that is all good. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Evan, The Gentleman. 

Well, everyone, the moment has finally come. I have a story for you that is all good. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Evan, The Gentleman. 


I know, I said I deleted my dating apps – and I did! – but dating in COVID-era Boston was proving to be virtually impossible. I took myself out on dates and to restaurants and things, dressed cute to go to the store, and nothing. So I figured I only had a couple of more months; I might as well go back on and get a few final Boston stories. Which I did, like in my last edition of One Hit Blunders. But then, I matched with Evan on Hinge. 

Evan just had a good look to him, besides being attractive and having a nice smile. He had pictures in suits, not shirtless gym selfies. Also, he had a picture with who I guessed was his mom, not a fish. Finally, he actually answered some of the prompts and seemed to have a good sense of humor. So I swiped right. And he had swiped right on me because we immediately matched. 
We started to talk and hit it off right away. We were finding things in common left and right, and he just seemed super decent. He has a good job that he actually enjoys, loves his family, has hobbies and interests, and made me laugh. A lot.

Slight side note, around this time I was also realizing how superficial a lot of my friendships in Boston were. When we couldn’t go out to bars as freely, I realized that a lot of my ‘friends’ weren’t really people I felt like I could just hang out with. Or they were constantly hanging out with each other but not inviting me. And honestly, it hurt. But at the same time, it reinforced my decision to move. It made me feel even better about my decision to leave a lot of things behind – in my 20s, in 2021, and in Boston. I promise this is important in a minute, but anyway, back to the story. 

I also liked that Evan made plans to hang out with me pretty quickly. And those plans involved taking me to a steakhouse. He was even patient when I was with family in North Carolina for Thanksgiving and couldn’t go out quite as soon as he wanted. When I got back to Boston, he made plans for the next week on Tuesday. 

Photo by W R on Pexels.com

On that day, I hadn’t heard from him. This was a bit weird because he was usually really talkative so I checked in on him. I knew he’d gotten a COVID vaccine the day before so I thought that might be why, and I was right. He was feeling extremely under the weather and had slept most of the day. Evan asked if there was any chance I was free the next night. I did have a movie night planned, but we were able to reschedule to Tuesday, so Wednesday, my birthday, was officially free. So I figured why not break the biggest first-date rule EVER and go out on my birthday? 

I told Evan, yes, I could go out on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. But, that he couldn’t stand me up because it was my birthday. I made him promise not to make a big deal out of it, though. At the time he agreed, but on our date, things went a bit differently. 

He invited me to Del Frisco’s by the Seaport, where I’d never been, so I was excited. I took my time getting ready because I wanted to look nice – I mean, this was a steakhouse date, my birthday, AND likely my last date in Boston given my pending move. I wanted to dress to impress. 

Clearly, Evan appreciated it. When I walked in and found him at the bar, he was literally stunned. I’ve never had someone look at me like that. All he said was, “Wow.” And not going to lie, his pictures did not do him justice either. His eyes are seriously so blue, I couldn’t stop staring. 

We made our way to our table and he had me pick our bottle of wine. We had already decided on an Oregon red from 2017. First, I tried to pick the least expensive one but he quickly realized what I was doing and told me to pick the one I really wanted. I did. We also got some delicious steaks and lobster mac & cheese. Plus, he didn’t judge me at all for my love of rolls. 

He asked me tons of questions and I answered all of them. Our dinner lasted almost four hours. He had told me before we even sat down that he was just going to ask me anything and everything, and I don’t think there’s a single topic we didn’t discuss. He actually listened to my answers, even. I know this for a fact because several conversations before (over message) I’d mentioned how much I love cheesecake. When he went to the bathroom, he told the waitress (who he was EXTREMELY polite to – major bonus points) that it was my birthday and asked if I could get me cheesecake for dessert. And they did! I got some amazing, free cheesecake and it was an amazing end to our delicious dinner. 

After dinner, we walked out towards the water and I could tell Evan was close to ruining the moment by asking me the forbidden question. Quickly, I just told him – no, don’t ask. And he didn’t. 

We ended up going back to his place (get your mind out of the gutter) because, during dinner, he’d mentioned that he had been decorating his Christmas tree but needed help finishing it. I happen to be an expert Christmas tree decorator, so I offered my services. I helped him decorate his tree and then he paid for my Lyft home – truly, a gentleman. 

Chapter 46: One Hit Blunders, VIII

I know it’s been a minute, but I’m back again with another edition of One Hit Blunders! In this chapter, get ready to meet Jeremy, The DM Slider, and Jay, The Regular. Let’s start with Jeremy. 

First of all, I decided to go ahead and get back on Hinge. Just for the fun of it. Mostly because I decided I wanted to go to a Bruins game (my first ever hockey game!) before I left Boston, and I thought it would be fun to use it to try to find someone to go with to the game. That failed, and I went alone, which ended up being fun because I made friends, but I stayed on. I figured with just a few more weeks in Boston, I’d have some fun and go out to some new places. Nothing wrong with trying out some things and making memories!


THE DM SLIDER

I met Jeremy on Hinge, and he seemed pretty decent. We actually had a fair amount in common, and he didn’t shit on my love of Disney, which is always a plus. He also immediately asked me out AND made reservations. Kind of a low bar, I know, but that’s dating nowadays. 

After talking for a bit on Hinge, we decided to exchange Instagram handles because nowadays, that’s usually the next step, it seems. What a time. And once he had my name, man, did he slide RIGHT into those DMs. And stayed there. This isn’t the end of the world, but it just felt weird like he could’ve asked for my phone number at this point. As y’all know by now, I’m a very open person, and no topic is off-limits for me, so he asked whatever he wanted, but some things I was just sort of like, really? But we already had a date scheduled, and he had admitted to not being super experienced and a bit socially awkward coming out of COVID especially, so I figured I’d give him a chance.

As a note, though, I notice when a guy only wants to communicate via social media. I know I’m notorious for my fake number thing, but at least it’s a text message and not a social media app that serves as my primary form of communication. 

Sliding into DMs like.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The night of, he was late. To be fair, I was a bit late, too, because of the oh-so-fun experience of riding the T, but still. Where I was a few minutes late because my T got stuck, he was several minutes late simply because he didn’t leave on time. Strike one. 

While he was tall, objectively attractive, and seemed to be pretty put-together and not a total creep, I just wasn’t feeling anything when he first arrived. I thought maybe it was just my annoyance at him being late. He was pretty nice, though, and very funny, so I kept it up. Sometimes a spark can grow. I also gave him points because I’d told him that it bothers me when I do a drinks date during dinner time, and I get hangry, so he let me order an appetizer even though he wasn’t even hungry. So, there’s that. 

The date wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I felt way more like I’d met a friend than I did someone I was legitimately interested in long-term, but he seemed pretty lax about it all. I think the fact I was about to move helped. So, when he asked if I wanted to go back to his place to watch TV, I figured why not. He didn’t seem creepy or weird in any way, and I was confident that I could get myself out of any situation I didn’t want to be in. So, we went back. 

All we did was watch “Seinfeld,” which I’m not a massive fan of, and “Parks and Rec,” which I just started, but it was relaxing. We did kiss, but it wasn’t very firework-inducing or anything. After a bit of all that, I said I was tired and decided to go home. He at least walked me down to my Uber, which was nice. And then we just never spoke again. 

I think he knew I wasn’t super interested, and in retrospect, I think the tardiness, communication, and lack of a spark just proved not to be a match on both ends. So that was the end of Jeremy. I’m pretty sure he still follows me on Instagram, but that’s it. On the bright side, I tried a new place I hadn’t been to before I left! 

Stay SCARI – How I Stay Safe While Solo Traveling

One of the things I get asked about the most when I talk to people about my experiences traveling solo is how I stay safe. Safety is essential to me. So, I have a lot of things that I do to keep myself secure when alone. Honestly, most of the tips are very standard and to the point. But, besides the self-defense courses and items that I have, I also developed a little way to remember my top safety tips. Stay SCARI.

S: Be Smart

This is a pretty simple one, and basically, cuts right to the chase.

First of all, do your research. If someplace is notoriously not the safest place to visit, even in a group, don’t go alone. There are several blogs and websites that can share insight on the safest countries and cities to travel to as a solo female (or male). Make sure you look at where your hotel is on Google Maps first. That way, you can confirm it’s in a good area and close to at least most of what you’re hoping to see. Request to be on a higher floor and book cars to and from the airport in advance (especially if you have very late or very early flights). And, make sure someone always knows where you are.

Before I go anywhere alone, I create an itinerary to note my general plans. I also add my hotel address, phone number, confirmation, and flight information and send it to my parents and older brother. That way, if they can’t get in touch with me for some reason, they know whether I’m doing something or if they should worry.

Don’t go to sketchy places. Carry some sort of self-defense item, even if it’s just a whistle or something. Don’t drink too much, and most importantly, do not tell everyone you meet that you’re by yourself!

C: Be Creative

This one goes in two directions.

First of all, be creative with your story. Minimal information is critical when talking to people around the area you’re visiting. One of my favorite parts of traveling solo is creating a whole new persona. I can give a fake name, say I’m from a different city, and have a different job. If people ask me if I’m meeting someone, I always say that either a friend is coming into town the following day. Or, that my boyfriend/fiance/brother/dad (any male relative) is on his way from the airport as we speak. When it comes to restaurants or bars, I try not to go to the same place more than once to maintain my “story”. I have told someone that I’m alone before, but it’s very much based on the situation and the vibe the person gives out.

II also like to research other hotels in the area. Then, if someone asks what hotel I’m staying at, I know the name of one that I can say instead without thinking about it.

Also, when it comes to self-defense and safety items, sometimes you have to be creative. I’d heard of these hotel door safety locks but quickly learned that they don’t fit on a lot of hotel doors. Instead, I take a hand towel and fold and roll it up to stuff it behind the door handle on my side of the room. This will make it harder for anyone to move the handle. Or, even just a basic doorstop that you can stick under the door on your side. Even if someone managed to get the door unlocked, it would be hard for them to open it. Which would give you a minute to prepare. Be able to use what’s around you, no matter where you are.

A: Be Aware

Again, this one is a give-in! For the love of God, please do not walk around with your face in your phone. You shouldn’t be doing that anytime or anywhere, but especially not when traveling to a new place by yourself! The same thing goes for walking around with earphones in – don’t do it.

Trust your gut. If someone is giving you a bad vibe, stop interacting and leave. If something doesn’t feel right, stop. Take note of your surroundings, listen to your intuition, and be ready to react at any moment. I’m going to be honest with you, if you don’t have good situational awareness or know-how to take inventory of your surroundings or aren’t usually able to tell when something isn’t “right,” I wouldn’t recommend traveling solo. It’s important to be aware at all times. This is especially when true when it comes to heading back to your hotel – make sure that nobody is following you!

R: Be Responsible

Listen, I know that one of the most appealing factors of solo travel is engaging with the men (or women) of the area (hello, France). And I’m not going to tell you that you can’t have fun because you can. But, you have to be responsible about it. Even though I’m a big believer in not letting people know where you’re staying, I do think it’s safer to go back to your hotel than to their place. Use my Google Voice trick if they ask for a phone number. Don’t drink too much if you’re going to be alone with someone you just met. Be responsible.

This also means learning the customs of the area so that you don’t stick out too much. Make sure that you’re respecting their traditions and aren’t dressing in a way that will totally expose you as a tourist. Don’t do anything illegal, obviously. Just try not to draw too much attention to yourself. The best way to avoid this is by being responsible and knowing how to behave in advance.

I: Be Able to Improvise

My final tip is to be able to improvise. Sometimes, you’ll slip up and forget your fake name or give something away. You’ll say you’re traveling alone in front of a group of people and you’re going to need to be able to come up with something on the spot. Try to learn more than one way back to your hotel. When going abroad, I try to stay places that have a hotel shuttle, but if they don’t offer one try to be ready in case you need to change course.

Also, if you go to do an activity that suddenly doesn’t feel “right,” have a backup plan in place! Time is precious when on vacation so make sure you’re ready with a Plan B. You don’t have to miss out on everything just because you’re alone. Just be careful.


I realize my tips might make it seem like traveling alone is scary, but honestly, it’s not. You just need to be prepared and, well, “scarier” than any potential issues.

As a bonus, here are some of my favorite self-defense items:

10 Reasons Why I Love Traveling Solo

I love traveling solo – it’s fun, empowering, and I’ve had great experiences so far. But I get many people asking me why I like it so much, and if there are any things that I don’t like about it. So, here’s my Top 10 list of why I love traveling soo – and three things that I don’t.


1. I get to do what I want!

This is a pretty obvious reason. When I travel solo, I get to see what I want, when I want. There’s no, “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” back-and-forth all day. If I want to go into a store, I go. If I’m crazing pizza, I don’t have to worry about if someone is craving tacos. 

It’s healthy to be a bit selfish and put yourself first sometimes, and if I’m going to spend money on a trip, I want to make sure that it’s (mostly) spent the way I want to. I’m more into history and culture than a lot of my friends – I wouldn’t drag them to museums, and then I’d be disappointed we didn’t go. I’ve never been to Vegas before – but I’ve been invited. Still, I’ve never gone because I would want to see shows, not just party, so I wouldn’t want to go somewhere that I wouldn’t be able to have a trip that I would actually enjoy. Traveling solo means that I get to have the trip I want guilt-free.

2. I don’t have to wait around.

My friends are great, but some spend half their day getting ready to go out. I am not about that life. I am the friend who sets an alarm even on vacation so I have time to work out and enjoy my coffee before venturing out for the day, so if I did that just to spend the next four hours waiting for my friend to get ready, I’d spend the whole trip annoyed. I’m not always the most punctual of people, but I’m usually within 5-10 minutes of on time. If I can’t rely on some of my friends to make it to a brunch reservation within the hour we had reserved, I’m not sure that traveling will be a fun and no-stress experience.

3. I can be more flexible and adaptable.

On my recent trip to Greece, I decided that I didn’t want to do the horseback riding tour I’d booked anymore because it would change the type of trip I was having. So, I canceled it. I like having the freedom to change my plans. If I realize I want more time at one place or less at another, I can. It’s easier to be flexible when you’re on your own, and I’ve found that flexibility is a must in travel.

4. It’s easier – and more comfortable – to plan

I get it; everyone has different budgets and comfort levels. I don’t spend much money on ‘things.’ I cook and drink primarily at home. I prioritize saving money for travel to afford the type of vacations that I like to take. I’d rather splurge on a hotel than one night out. But, of course, not everyone is like that, and that’s okay! But I have learned that it’s difficult to overcome when attempting to plan travel with friends. 

I will never be okay with staying at a hostel – I did that in college, and it was enough. I don’t need a luxury resort, but I like to feel safe, comfortable, and know that where I’m staying provides at least a bit more than the bare minimum. But it can be hard to find a compromise with friends who are okay with hostels and only the basics, and I’ve found that things rarely get planned when there are such differences in comfort levels and budgets. 

Solo day trip to Seville, Spain.

5. I get to meet new people and make friends.

I’m a very social and outgoing person. I love meeting new people, and I’ve been able to meet some great people by traveling solo. Not having a friend or someone there as a “buffer” forces me to put myself out there. I’ve had so many fun conversations with people because if I wanted to talk to someone, I had to be brave! Getting to know the people is a great way to get to know the culture of where you are. I’ve had so many people strike up conversations with me once they see I’m alone (and not in a creepy way). Talking to strangers and making friends in new cities is a great way to build confidence, and I’ve found it’s easier to do so when you’re traveling alone.

6. I feel confident and empowered.

It’s a great feeling to do something outside your comfort zone, and I always feel empowered AF during and after a trip. Especially when people I meet constantly tell me how cool and brave it is to travel solo and how impressed they are, it’s a nice little confidence boost. I like knowing that I’m confident enough – and secure enough – to do something special for myself. I believe in accepting and loving yourself first and foremost. To me, solo travel is the ultimate way to ‘date’ and love myself.

7. I don’t miss out.

Especially when traveling internationally, if you’re going somewhere, you want to make sure you make the most out of it. Traveling with others, or especially a big group, you can easily run the risk of not getting to see everything you wanted due to lack of time. Or, you do, but your friends didn’t, which also sucks. Also, if an opportunity comes up that you’re dying to do, but it overlaps with other plans, that’s never fun. For the record, I’m a big believer in compromise. When traveling with family or no-stress friends, I’m happy to check out things that might not have been #1 on my list. Still, it’s nice to give yourself opportunities where you’re only doing what you want.  

Mamma Mia! My trip to Santorini, Greece

Did you really think I was going to write a post completely dedicated to Greece and NOT make a “Mamma Mia” reference?


To think that I almost didn’t go to Greece. In the week or two leading up to going, I was just not as excited for some reason. But, honestly, I’ve been in a weird place lately. So, I think I was just getting myself anxious and paranoid over nothing. But I am SO glad that I went.

The Journey

I had a long layover in Paris, France, where I had planned on going to Brussels and back. That trip would have made Belgium the 29th country I’ve been to, so Greece would be #30. That did not happen.

After two flights already – Boston to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Paris – I was exhausted. When I got to Paris, and I finally found my way out of the airport, I decided to first stop at my hotel. I desperately needed to take some things out of my bag. Then, I decided to take the train from Charles De Gaulle airport to the station in Paris, where I’d take the train to Brussels. The Universe had other plans, though. 

As I walked in, a policeman came up to me and started speaking very quickly and loudly in French. I thought maybe I’d gone in the wrong way, so I asked him if I had done something wrong. He started spouting off in French again, at which point I stopped him and asked if he could say everything he’d just said but in English. It turns out something had happened at baggage claim – right by the train station – and it was “very dangerous,” so they were evacuating. That meant no trains. I looked into taking the bus, but it would have taken forever, and I’d have missed my train. Also, cabs were way too expensive and would still take a long time. So, I decided not to go. (Side note, next time I’m in Paris, I am absolutely taking a Moto Uber).

Instead, I went to Paris for a few hours. Which, I can’t (and won’t) complain about. I didn’t have a plan; I just asked which bus would take me close to something cool and ended up near the Opera House. Fitting, since I love to sing. And there was a little area named “Madeleine” right by it! After that, I went to Sephora (of course) because I needed nail polish to fix my manicure. I walked into some other shops, had dinner, and got some macarons before heading back to my hotel to get some sleep. I had an early flight the next day. 

Honestly, being in Paris for the few hours I was there that day reminded me even more of how much I love it. I could see myself doing some “Emily in Paris” type of thing – except, you know, “Madeline in Paris.” To start, even though everyone says French people are rude, I don’t get that. Everyone I encountered was so friendly and helpful. I mean, in the stores, I had some women like push past me, but that happens everywhere.

Also, French guys LOVE me. I have some theories for why that I won’t get into. Still, I can easily say that one French guy made me feel more appreciated, more beautiful, and more understood, and was just generally more romantic than every other guy I’ve been with – combined. So, I like French guys. They like me. It’s a match. What I’m getting at is that I’ve decided I need to marry a French guy, so moving to Paris seems to make sense in making that happen. 

But I’m digressing. So, let’s move on to Greece. 


After a flight delay with no communication and a 3-hour flight sitting in what was probably the most uncomfortable airplane seat, and the least amount of legroom I have ever experienced, I arrived in Santorini! 

I got to my hotel, Petit Palace, and oh my goodness, it was beyond beautiful. Check-in was a breeze, and my room was gorgeous. So spacious, the bathroom was huge, and the view from my balcony was insane. I could not believe that I would get to walk out to that view every morning of my trip!

After a quick late lunch at the hotel, I took the shuttle into Fira, the main town in Santorini. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but it was so fun! It’s filled with cute shops, bars, and restaurants. There were so many stores that sold custom shoes; I was fascinated. 

I was already regretting not bringing a good hat on my trip, so I got a cute sun hat, found a place that sells alcohol to-go and had my first Aperol Spritz, and snagged a great spot to watch my first Santorini sunset. It was gorgeous; I took so many photos. After, I went back to my hotel and got some sleep to get ready for my first full day.

Day One

My first trip adventure was a vineyard tour and wine tasting that I did with Santorini Wine Tours, and I honestly could not recommend it enough. We visited three local vineyards; there are so many great vineyards there that I think they change it up. I can’t remember the third name, but the first was Art Space Wine, and the second was Artemis Karamolegos. I think the third was Venetsanos, which is one of the most famous ones. At each place, we also had some food like cheese and crackers and things. So many olives, I loved it.

At the last spot, we also had a fantastic view of the caldera too. I was with three couples, and they were all so lovely, we had a wonderful time. I tried different types of Assyrtiko (which I love) and a few other types of wine, I liked them all. Even the dessert one! Nobody else did, but I like the sweet stuff. 

After the wine tour, I went back to my hotel and relaxed before walking from Fira to Imerovigli. Google Maps and my hotel told me it would only take 25 minutes, but it took me almost an hour. It was uphill, mostly, and in heeled sandals! Then again, I did go a kind of weird way to avoid this guy from my shuttle who was trying to get me to invite him to hang out with me. 

I was able to get a last-minute reservation at The Wine Bar, which was honestly probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. To drink, I had the Santorini Spritz to drink and the shrimp saganaki. I also had a PRIME view of the sunset. Everyone told me Oia had the best sunsets, but, spoiler alert, Imerovigli was my favorite. It was also probably my favorite town in Santorini, but I was just getting started!

Fira sunset

Day Two

On my second day, I was initially planning on doing a horseback riding tour on one of the black beaches, but I decided to cancel it and spend the morning by the pool instead. I had a visit from a stray dog while I was there! I think she was pregnant. Then, I took the shuttle to Fira and, from there, the bus to Oia. 

My first stop was an essential visit to a cafe for an iced coffee, or “frappe.” Then, I wandered around the shops – there are so many! Everyone was so kind and welcoming; I ended up having so many conversations with people. Greek people are great. I wanted to visit Atlantis Books, but sadly it ended up being closed the week I was there. So instead, I started to do a bit of souvenir shopping for my family and eyed some gorgeous jewelry (someday!).

I also walked to the castle overlook and got some perfect shots of the view. Then I wandered some more before I had dinner. I found a place called Thalami, and I was thrilled because they had spanikopita, one of my favorite foods. I tried the Mediterranean pasta – I could honestly eat a whole bowl of their capers. The food there is so fresh and so delicious. I miss it already. 

After dinner, I thought about staying for the sunset, but it was just so crowded. So, instead, I found a spot where I could see the start of it and then took the bus back to Fira. I had a glass of wine at Town Bar and chatted with the bartender and another employee for a bit. The bartender told me that she gets solo travelers a lot, but my “story” was that my friend/former roommate was joining me from Greece the next day. But, they confirmed that my name is Greek – which someone the day before told me it wasn’t – and we talked about astrology.

Then, I went back to my hotel to get some sleep! There was one couple from New Jersey and Florida that I ran into almost every time I took the shuttle – isn’t there always that one person/family you see multiple times on a trip? We always had them when we went on cruises. I guess they were the Greece version.

One Night in Montreal

22 hours in Canada.

There’s something that you should know about me.

When I set my mind to something and have a goal in mind, it is nearly impossible to get me to let it go. I can be single-minded at times, and my 30 by 30 goal is no exception. So as soon as the world started to open up again post-pandemic, my restless, travel-loving self was anxious to get back to crossing some places off the list.

Believe it or not, despite living in Boston for so long, I have never been to Canada. When I was in college, there was this big “ski” weekend that many of the sororities and fraternities would do. They’d go to Montreal to “ski,” aka a bit of skiing, but a lot of drinking, too. I was in a sorority, so I was invited, but I never went. In college, I just wasn’t into drinking or partying a lot. I was a late bloomer in several ways. So anyway, that was pretty much my only chance to go to Canada, and I never took it. I was planning to cruise to Canada last year but canceled it even before COVID because of the job I had at the time. So I decided that Canada should be my next stop before risking it closing up again.


I picked a day and was extremely excited to find out that Montreal has a Sofitel. When I had a long layover at London Gatwick Airport, I stayed at a Sofitel and it was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. Obviously, I immediately booked a room there. I downloaded the ArriveCAN app, got my COVID test, and set off for just under a 5-hour drive to Montreal.

Honestly, the drive was not bad at all. It’s actually a beautiful drive, even though it rained for most of it. I saw parts of New Hampshire and Vermont that I hadn’t seen before. I was also weirdly amused by the “Moose Crossing” and “Bear Crossing” signs. When I got to the border, it was easy sailing going through. The hardest part was not oversharing too much. Whenever I’m questioned like that, I always feel like maybe I DID do something wrong. I definitely went way too into detail on some questions, though. But I made it through! After that, it was just another hour or so to Montreal.

I really thought that Montreal would have traffic signs in both French and English. But, I quickly learned that was not the case. I was grateful that my dad reminded me to switch my speedometer to KM instead of MPH, and I was grateful for the bit of French I knew that I could understand where I was going. I made it to my hotel safely, got checked in and settled, and then set out.

My first stop was to Tim Horton’s because that is basically the most quintessentially “Canada” thing I can think of. Well, besides poutine, which I won’t eat. I hate gravy, sorry. It was not as exciting or impressive as I thought it might be, but caffeine is caffeine, so it served its purpose. After that, I just walked around for a while, exploring the area near my hotel. I saw a really beautiful art museum and some cool sculptures outside, a pretty park, and interesting buildings. I picked a cute little brasserie not too far from my hotel for dinner because I was starving. The bartender there was so sweet. He gave me so many tips. I wish I had been there for more than one night. He told me so many places to try and gave me a glass of wine on the house. My cheeseburger was delicious, too.

After that, I went back to my hotel to call it an early night. I slept SO well in the amazing Sofitel bed, and in the morning, I set off to see more of Montreal. I found out that the other thing they’re famous for is bagels, so I figured that was a good thing to try. Unfortunately for Canada, my family is from New York/New Jersey. When it comes to bagels, I am VERY picky and have high standards, so while the bagel wasn’t bad, I have absolutely had better.

After breakfast, I wandered down to Notre Dame Cathedral. Sadly, I couldn’t go inside, but the outside is absolutely gorgeous. Then I strolled through the Old Montreal area and went inside some cute little shops and bakeries before making my way to La Grande Roue de Montreal, which is kind of like their London Eye. The views were amazing. The whole area was pretty cute; actually, they had some little stands and games set up. It was cool.

After that, I figured it was time to get on the road soon. First, I went through this massive market but found that many shops were closed because of COVID. If I go back, hopefully, more will be open. Then I made my way back to my hotel and started my drive back to Boston. Once again, it was easy to get through the border. I was happy to be back in the land of miles per hour and English traffic signs.

If I’m honest, the best part of the trip was that I took a bit longer on the way back so that I could go to Ben and Jerry’s headquarters and get ice cream. They also have a “flavor graveyard” with headstones for all of their retired flavors. I loved it.

And that was my overnight trip to Montreal! Altogether, I think I was there for like 22 hours, but it was good to see and get a taste of it. Of course, I also got to cross it off my list – bringing me to 28!

I would love to go back to Canada someday because the people were so sweet, and I’m sure there’s so much more to see and do, but I wasn’t overly impressed with Montreal. Maybe if the weather was nicer or if I’d brought clothes (and had the energy) to go to one of the speakeasies, I’d feel differently. But, I’ll give it another chance someday.


Have you been to Canada before? What’s your favorite city there?

30 by 30 Goal

I’m lucky enough to have traveled to several different countries – Argentina, Belize, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, to name a few. So a couple of years ago, realizing that I had been to 27 different countries already, I created a goal for myself – I wanted to visit 30 different countries by the time I turned 30.

I was doing pretty well on that, I’d been to 27 by 27 so this didn’t seem impossible. After working in hospitality for most of my career years, I finally got out of the industry and found something more stable so that I’d be able to take time off of work to make some big trips – and get paid better, too. I found a job at a study abroad organization, so it seemed perfect. I even applied and got approved for a travel rewards credit card. But then COVID happened, so obviously, traveling was put on the back burner.

Now, as the world reopens, I’m determined to reach that goal! I just got to 28 by visiting Canada for one night, and I have a trip booked to Greece coming up. Thanks to an extra-long layover in Paris, I think I’m going to be able to take a quick train ride to cross another country off my list, too… Belgium.

I decided to start a travel section of my blog because traveling is so important to me. As a Sagittarius, I love adventure, exploring new places, learning about different cultures, and it’s a great way to keep my restless self entertained and not bored. I thrive on change and being someplace new, and I’ve missed being able to travel lately.

Before I go to Greece and *officially* start my travel blog where I talk about actual trips, I thought I’d start this off by giving a one-sentence review or synopsis of the 28 countries I’ve already been to. People often ask me for travel advice, and I’m excited to start writing about something that I’m so passionate about. But, here’s a start.

1. Argentina (Buenos Aires)
The airline lost our luggage, and we wore the same clothes for 2 days, but it was beautiful, and I had the best pizza of my life.

2. Belize (Placencia)
Absolutely gorgeous, incredibly kind people, delicious food, and overall one of my favorite places except that I almost got attacked by a sea turtle.

3. Costa Rica
I got the worst sunburn of my life here, but I also went back years later and visited a sloth sanctuary, but our tour guide fell in love with me (I was 16 and he literally proposed), so it’s a 50/50 from me strictly because of the sloths.

4. Mexico (Cozumel)
All I remember is going to a Senor Frog’s and seeing a middle-aged woman have someone take a belly button shot off of her – cruise port terminals are weird.

5. Panama (Panama City)
Very pretty, but the most boring train ride you could ever imagine took place here; I didn’t even remember that I’d been.

6. Antigua 
Amazing beaches and very pretty – it was a cruise destination, so that’s all I remember.

7. Aruba 
I think we did some cool Jeep tour here, it was also beautiful, and the beaches looked really nice.

8. the Bahamas
There’s nothing like a Mai Tai at the Blue Lagoon, but I still want to visit Atlantis so I can feel like Mary Kate & Ashley in “Holiday in the Sun.”

9. Barbados 
Another cruise destination – I think this might have been where my dad gave me some of his drink, forgetting they’d put Kahlua in it – it was like 3 sips, don’t worry.

10. Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman)
I had a stingray literally just chilling on my back, and I screamed bloody murder into a snorkeling mask when I realized it, but otherwise, it was great.

11. Curacao
The name is fun to say, it’s gorgeous, and I loved the colors of the buildings.

12. Dominica
We went ziplining, and the women there who were helping get us situated were obsessed with my body, and I was like 15, but it was a great confidence boost.

13. Jamaica (Ocho Rios)
Another amazing cruise destination; I definitely want to go back and see more someday.

14. St Maarten
Very friendly people and a beautiful place.

Chapter 45: The Texan

Like I said in my last post, I recently deleted my dating apps. But, I still had them before my trips to Austin, Texas, and Scottsdale, Arizona. I wanted to move to either of those places, so I thought it would be helpful to see what the guys were like. So, I used Hinge and changed my neighborhood to the Austin area, and did some swiping. I did match with a couple of guys who didn’t seem totally awful and a few that I knew would not be for me. Ultimately, I made plans to meet up with one of them while I was there – Joseph.

Joseph isn’t actually from Texas. He’s from the East Coast but was raised in California and now lives in Austin. But for this story, I’m just going to call him The Texan because it works.

Joseph was pretty cute, a little short, but I’m not too much of a heightist. He was funny and seemed pretty decent. Honestly, he wasn’t 100% “my type,” but I’m trying to be better about that, too. I figured I’d try something new. So we messaged, and then texted for a bit, and decided to meet up on my first day there. I kind of regretted telling him about what time I was set to land, though. He seemed to want to meet up pretty much immediately, but I kind of just ignored him for a bit until I got settled in.

Eventually, we met up at a brewery that the front desk agent at my hotel had recommended. I wanted to explore East Austin, and she suggested it as a starting point. Even though I don’t really drink beer, I thought it would be fun. So I invited him to join me after I ate a late breakfast. As I usually do, I had to go back through his profile and our previous conversations to remember what he looked like and what topics we’d already covered. Once I did, I was ready.

I got there first, but since I’m not a beer fan, it worked out – it took me a very long time to decide what I wanted to get. When he did arrive, he was actually a bit cuter in person. Still a bit short, though. But overall I got a pretty good vibe – more ‘friend’ than ‘boyfriend,’ but better than ‘run away’! We ordered our beers and sat down, and started talking.

After we had a drink there, we decided to walk around and ended up at a cocktail bar not too far away. I appreciated that he paid for my drinks without question, seemed interested in what I had to say, remembered other details about me, and wasn’t trying to get in my pants right off the bat. Sometimes it’s sad to realize that this is where the bar is at this point.

But, while Joseph wasn’t awful and seemed mostly decent, he was a bit too clingy for me. I feel like he had this idea that we would meet on my first day and have such amazing chemistry that we spent my whole time there together and then fell madly in love, so I moved there. But that’s not what happened. It’s also not what I wanted to happen. But Joseph started to get a bit clingy, so I started to step on the brakes. I even lied about the hotel I was staying at . Not just for safety, but because I didn’t trust that he wouldn’t just show up outside my hotel “coincidentally” at some point during my stay.

After we had our drinks, he offered to drive me back to my hotel. But obviously, since I told him I was staying somewhere else I said no. I also kind of wanted to explore a bit more. But, it was nice of him to offer. That is, until he began texting me every day for the rest of my trip asking if I wanted to meet up again.

I like the interest, but I’d also already told him that I had plans of my own – which was true. I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to meet more than once since it was such a quick trip. But like I said, I think he had an idea of some sort of crazy romantic movie-type story unfolding. And I was just not into it.

I did think about meeting up with him one night, though. I had met up with a friend at a bar I knew wasn’t too far from him and thought about reaching out. Then we ended up totally losing track of time so I decided to go back to my hotel instead. I did text him that I had planned on trying to meet up with him but that the night had gotten away from me. I mean, it was pretty late, and it was my last night before heading to Arizona so I wanted to get some sleep. He took it pretty well, though.

The next day, though, he texted me again when I was leaving Austin for Arizona to ask me if I was planning on coming back. He also said that he “really saw this going somewhere” and wanted me to let him know if I did end up moving here. I was honest that I didn’t really see myself moving there, but that if I ever came back to visit I’d try to let him know. Really, Austin was just not for me – fun city, however.

Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com

I didn’t have high expectations for a date with anyone while I was there so it was fine. I mostly just wanted a local to show me around a bit, but I could definitely tell that he had some other plans. Don’t get me wrong, I love a guy who’s enthusiastic and interested. But he was a bit too interested and excited that I wasn’t from there.

It kind of made me feel like maybe there’s a reason why he hasn’t had any luck with a girl in Austin and was looking for someone new to the area. Maybe that’s just me but it’s kind of a red flag when a guy is clearly missing signals that I wanted my time and space to do my own thing. Instead, he was trying to get me, basically a stranger, to spend my whole trip with him. Not a crazy red flag, but just not one I want to ignore.

I’m also not sure what it is about me that so far, I find guys who are either madly in love with me from date one or want nothing to do with me after one date. I’m clearly very much a love or hate kind of person. But I’m changing that!

In any case, Joseph was not the one and that’s perfectly fine with me. Especially since I’m not moving to Texas. I did search for some matches in Arizona but didn’t find any worth going out with, which was fine. However, I did make a friend early on in my trip. I ended up hanging out with her and her boyfriend a bit, which was much more fun anyway.

And after those trips, I deleted all of my apps – for good. I didn’t use them when I was in the Outer Banks. I wasn’t even tempted to redownload. Now that I’m back in Boston I’m planning on doing it all the old-fashioned way. I feel like I’ve dated every guy in Boston already, but maybe there are a few unicorns who weren’t on any apps that I’ve yet to meet. So from now on, no more dating app stories. Only “real life” ones. Will I meet anyone this way? I’m optimistic. Will they be story worthy? I guess we have to wait and see. Stay tuned.

Chapter 44: I Deleted My Dating Apps ft. The Baseball Player and The Namecaller

Y’all, I just couldn’t do it anymore – I deleted my dating apps. 

A few weeks ago, I deleted Tinder and Bumble. But, I did make a Hinge profile specifically so that I can get an idea of what the options are like when I was in Austin and Scottsdale (more on that later). But as of last night, when I returned, that was gone, too. 

So, what drew me to make this decision? Honestly, a lot of things.


1. Quality

The biggest reason was that I have just not been finding quality guys on these apps. The few times I thought I had someone decent, it was a bust. Take Brad, The Baseball Player. We matched, texted a bit, went out for drinks and apps, and had a really great time. I actually liked him more than I expected to. He has a good job, works really hard (work ethic is one of my biggest non-sexual turn-ons), is tall, and was really nice and very funny the whole time. We shared some amazing appetizers, and I genuinely had a great time. We talked a bit for a couple of days after, and then nothing. He literally just disappeared.  

I’m not saying that Brad isn’t a quality guy. He did have a lot of qualities that I’m looking for. But he clearly didn’t have one quality that is extremely important to me – communication skills. Either he wasn’t willing to make the effort, or didn’t know how to (and I don’t want to be the one courting a guy). Or, he just didn’t want to tell me he wasn’t interested anymore. No matter what, it just wasn’t a match. 

Besides Brad, I haven’t actually been out with more than one of my recent matches. Frankly, they just weren’t that interesting. I haven’t found a single guy who makes me excited to get a message from him in several months. Yes, I know people can come off as different over text versus in person, but still. It’s just not exciting anymore.

Finally, don’t even get me started on all the catfishers.

2. Quantity

This one is pretty straightforward. I have seen SO many of the same guys on these apps. Some of them I’ve seen each time I’ve redownloaded the apps in a moment of weakness. (This mostly happens when I need an ego boost). Yes, I know that this means that I’m still single, too… but I usually delete my apps if I’m seeing someone. Then, I update them if I go back on. But I’ve seen some guys who have basically the exact same profile which is very suspicious to me – does that mean you’ve just been chilling with the exact same profile for years and haven’t had to get off of it for even a few months? Or, they leave it up while they’re dating someone.

I’ve also even accidentally rematched with guys I’ve matched with on another app before but, for whatever reason, disregarded as someone with actual potential. Then when I realize it, I have to unmatch them again. I really thought Boston was a big city – but the amount of guys I’ve seen MULTIPLE times shows me that is a lie. 

Side note, I saw The Boyfriend again. He’s still lying about who he is, but at least he’s updated his photos. I tried to report him but it wouldn’t let me.

3. Guys Who Hide Behind their Phones

To be fair, this one kind of goes along with “Quality,” but I wanted to make a distinction. It’s one thing to just have a lot of guys that I have nothing in common with. Or guys who don’t know how to actually date. But i’s another to have guys that feel like because they don’t actually know you, they can be mean. 

The amount of guys who immediately turn things sexual is obscene and, if I weren’t such a hopeless romantic, it would make me sad and disheartened. I mean, a lot of guys are sexist anyway but they feel like since they’re on their phones they can get away with it more. 

Then there are the guys who are just straight-up rude. For instance, one specific guy I matched with. I honestly don’t want to waste too much energy coming up with a fake name or nickname for him. I’ll just call him The Namecaller. 

Once we switched to (Google Voice) text, he got kind of weird. Constantly asking me where I was, what I was doing, who I was with. If I went out to dinner, he’d ask me where and then ask how far it was from where I lived.

When I mentioned that a lot of my friends had moved from the city, but then later said I was hanging out with a friend to get him to leave me alone, he made it sound like I just wasn’t allowed to have any friends since I’d told him a lot of them moved. He was always trying to find out where I was and where I lived. He asked several times if I had any roommates. It freaked me out. 

One day, I “accidentally” unmatched him and he flipped out. He started messaging me asking why I unmatched him, and I just said it was an accident. But I also mentioned that his constantly interrogating me on where I was didn’t sit well with me. And, it made me uncomfortable. Then he just started to get rude and unnecessarily sassy. After a bit, I told him that I didn’t see it working out and was no longer interested in going out with him. 

He did not take this well. He got super defensive and accusatory and started insulting me. So I said that if this was how he reacted to a woman saying no to a date – which I had every right to do – I was glad I’d said no. And then he just got even worse. He called me “rude,” and said that he didn’t understand how I expected anyone to want to date me if this was how I was going to be about simple questions. I didn’t even answer. I just blocked him. Sorry, I’ve already had a guy tell me nobody would ever love me – I’m not about to listen to another mediocre manchild tell me the same thing.

The funny thing is he used to live in my building. Luckily, that made it easier to find him and block him on Facebook, too. Just in case. 

4. Time and Energy

We all know that we shouldn’t be spending so much time on our phones, and I am passionate about that. I’ve been actively trying to be less attached to my phone. I turned off most notifications, deleted some of my most used apps, etc. I could think of 100 other things that are a much better use of my time and energy than sitting on my phone swiping on guys that I probably won’t like, or who probably won’t even answer me if we do match. 

I’m trying to better myself. I’m on a big self-love and growth journey right now. And this will help me become the person I want to be. Ultimately, this will help me be someone who is a better girlfriend. Wasting my time on guys who, frankly, aren’t worth it when I could be doing something valuable just doesn’t make any sense to me anymore. 

Especially since so many of the profiles are actually bots that the companies use to keep people interested in swiping for hours on end. It’s just an energy and time sucker. I don’t feel like participating anymore. 

I also believe in the Law of Attraction, and I just don’t have good expectations from dating apps. Sometimes, they don’t make me feel good about myself. I’d rather be out there living my life and being amazing and feeling positive. That way, I’ll meet men who are also amazing and positive.